Journalism’s Favorites: Gas Station Food


Photo by Ethan Cull on Unsplash

We’ve all been there: you’re on the road, traveling somewhere far away, and your parents pull into the Racetrac, the QT, the Buc-ee’s, etc. You’re parched. You’re thirsty. You’re grateful for this oasis in the desert of the American highway. You walk in, and the air conditioning blasts your face. What foods and drinks do you buy? Defend your choice.


Hailee Cicili: Going into a gas station, everyone has their go-to-get snacks, drinks. The first thing I make sure to get is gum. To me, it’s a must have on trips or just in the car whenever. The next spot is drinks. If I need caffeine, I get coffee. I would get an energy drink but can’t have those, so coffee will do. Slushies are the first go-to drink though; if you go to the gas station not for a slushie, something is wrong with you. The best flavors are blue raspberry, Coke, and cherry sometimes. Next is a snack. The most stressful part is you don’t know if you want sweet, spicy ,or salty but my go-to snack is normally salt and vinegar chips or hot cheetos, and you always have to have something sweet so either sour skittles or muddy buddies is always a good choice.


Briley Simpson: In my mind there are two ways you could go about this. When you first enter the gas station, you book it to the drinks. There is always only one choice, and that choice is sweet tea. Whether it is Peace Tea or whatever else, it doesn’t matter. Next is when it gets tricky. You have to decide if you want something sweet or savory.  If you want sweet, then Trolli gummy worms all the way. I don’t feel like I even need to explain that one. Now, if you decide that savory is more your speed, then I would say salt and vinegar pringles. I know some people don’t love them, but you just have to give them a chance. They fill you up, and the strong flavor prevents you from eating them all at once. I wish I was on a road trip right now because that sounds so good!


Gunner Bryson:  I don’t really go to many gas stations, and if I do, I usually skip out on snacks. So as an outsider to this gas station world, I must say that this article is really hard for me to write. That being said, after going to a gas station over the weekend, I have decided that normal Cheetos are my favorite. I choose normal Cheetos because I am very vanilla, and I just feel like you can’t go wrong with the classic Cheetos. For my drink, I am gonna have to go with water. There isn’t really anything to argue about with water, besides maybe how bland it is. Though there are also a ton of different water brands, so it’s not that bland. Overall, I haven’t really added that much insight except that people should drink more water and that I ate cheetos over the weekend. 


Cade Stone:  Greece, a beautiful country near Turkey, has been home to ancient thinkers for thousands of years. I was blessed enough to go down and ask the great minds of the ancient world their thoughts on this matter. I think they helped me make up my mind. The safe options in every gas station are their drinks, candy, and chips. I’m not a chip guy myself, so I usually get beef jerky, which is another safe option. The medium options at most gas stations would be their own products. For example; Race Track has Fro-Yo. Some gas stations have a Subway or Wendy’s inside of them. These are usually separate, but there’s a small risk you take when eating at a gas station McDonalds. Next is the high risk. I consider these foods the worst things you can ever get at a gas station: hot dogs on the little rolly thing, boiled peanuts, the pizza that they make, etc. I don’t trust this gas station “fresh” food and never will. My normal pick-up on a road trip somewhere is Dr. Pepper, beef jerky, and either Twix or Sweet Tart Ropes. If you ever get gas station hot dogs, please never talk to me again.


Miles Clark: When I’m walking into a gas station, there are usually only two things on my mind: chips and a drink. I don’t really stray away from those two options. The real question is: what is the best chip and drink combo? In my opinion, the best combo has to be sugar-free Red Bull with a nice and juicy bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Another great combo is Milo’s Sweet Tea and the Munchies Spicy Mix Chips. If you haven’t tried the Munchies Spicy Chip Mix, you are truly missing out on a life-changing experience, and I suggest you stop reading this right now to go try them. If you’re a civilized human being and have tried the Munchies Spicy Chip Mix, you may keep reading. On the rare occasion that I don’t just get chips, and if a gas station has a Krispy Kreme station, I’m picking up two birthday cake doughnuts. At the end of the day, though, Nacho Cheese Doritos and a Red Bull is the greatest gas station combo, but the Munchies Spicy Chip Mix is the most underrated bag of chips out there. 


Connor Richardson: When you walk into a gas station after a long time on the road, it can be hard to choose what you want. For me, though, there is a very obvious choice of what to get. If you are thirsty, you have to go with water, or if you want flavor, you would go with a lemon lime powerade.  If you get a drink, then you have to get a snack with it, but you can either get something sweet or salty. If I was getting something sweet, I would either get Peach Rings or an ice cream Snickers bar. If you wanted to get something salty, on the other hand, the best choice would be beef jerky or Chex Mix. Gas stations are definitely the best part of a road trip because they are just so refreshing. 


Paige Johnson: I’m an avid gas stationeer, not only on roadtrips, but I make a visit at least once a week. If you walk into a gas station, any gas station, and don’t head straight to the Icee’s, you’re the problem. So of course, my gas station beverage of choice is a jumbo Icee, preferably a Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Mountain Dew Icee, but we all know sometimes your favorite flavor is working and that’s okay. If your Icee of choice isn’t available, then enlighten yourself to a Code Red Mountain Dew. Now the struggle begins when it comes to making the decision on what to snack on. If it’s a long car ride, or if I’m just really that hungry, I usually go for a sweet, a savory, and a sour. The sweet of course, has no competition, a king sized Cookies and Cream Twix. Not in competition with, but in second place is without a doubt the Snickers Peanut Butter. When it comes to making a decision on which salty snack I want, I find myself pacing back and forth in the gas station. Walking frantically from one side to the other hoping that I make the right decision. My two gas station defaults for a savory snack is none other than White Cheddar Cheez-Its or Cheddar and Sour Cream Pringles. After I’ve gathered my Icee, my Twix Cookies and Cream, and my White Cheddar Cheez-Its, I make my way to the candy aisle once more to decide on my sour snack. My candy of choice without a doubt is Airheads Xtremes Bites. A bag of Airheads Xtreme Bites, almost seems never-ending. It’s just a constant bag of sour goodness, that you just hope never runs out. Whether I’m on my way home, making a pit stop before work, or enjoying a break in the middle of a long road trip, these snacks never disappoint. 


Garrett Peace: I am not, let it be known, an avid gas stationeer like Paige above. The only occasion I actually walk into a gas station is when I’ve stopped on a road trip (often coming back from a show in Atlanta or Nashville or Knoxville). Friends of mine who have accompanied me on these trips over the years have become intimately familiar with one particular gas station, a favorite of mine I frequent every time I’m driving home from Atlanta: the QuickTrip (QT) off the Wade Green Rd. exit in Kennesaw. There, you’ll always be welcomed by the sharp, tangy smell of taquitos and wieners that have laid on the hot roller grills for longer than you’d like to know, as well as a murmured “hey” from the attendant, accompanied, if you’re lucky, by a shrug. 

Before telling you about my go-to gas station snacks, I’ll confess: I’m a simple man. I don’t need much to make me happy, and I’m content, most of the time, with what the world chooses to give to me. I’m also a man of habit, which means I rarely stray beyond my usual picks (though I’ll admit I’m tempted from time to time by sheer weirdness, as when I recently picked up the new “Fruity Cereal” Kit-Kat). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s my strategy upon entering the QT. First, I head for the Icees. (QT doesn’t call them “Icees,” but we all know, in our heart of hearts, that that’s what they are.) I’m a big blue raspberry head, partly because of the flavor and partly, perhaps more so, because of the nostalgia it induces. If I’m not in the mood for that, though, then I sidle over to the fountain drinks, conveniently located right next to the Icees, for a freakishly huge cup of Coke Zero with five servings of vanilla flavoring mixed into it. Then I head for the food. Some say you have to choose between sweet or savory snacks, but this is a false binary. I just get both. I tend to prefer baked goods over chocolate, at least when it’s late at night, and this QT fortunately carries a snack I’ve been fond of for a while now but that’s somewhat hard to find around here: the bakery company Bimbo’s “Panquecitos.” These little packaged pound cakes won’t blow your mind by any means, but, as I said above, I’m a simple man. They get the job done, especially if you’re able to get the one with chocolate chips in them. To balance everything out, though, I also get Takis. I’ve been particularly taken with the “Blue Heat” flavor lately. 

Leaving the Wade Green Rd. QT with Icee in hand and Panquecitos and Takis in a flimsy plastic bag, I’ve never been happier—until I return and do it all over again.